LOWVILLE Lewis County legislators next week will consider a countywide ban on the sale and possession of synthetic drugs, like bath salts.
Its going to cut down on medical calls, said Sheriff Michael P. Carpinelli.
A public hearing on a proposed law banning the possession or sale of chemical substances or compounds known as synthetic cocaine and marijuana, some of them marketed as bath salts, has been set for 9 a.m. next Tuesday in the second-floor legislative chambers at the county office building on North State Street.
Local police agencies have seen a sharp increase in use of synthetic drugs. Those high on the substances claim to see a number of people coming after them all at once, even if nobody else is actually present.
Its been a very, very busy spring and summer, Sheriff Carpinelli said.
The use of synthetic drugs also puts a strain on emergency and medical personnel, with some abusers of the substances using our medical facilities for the aftermath, then being unable to pay for those services, Sheriff Carpinelli said.
Hopefully, it will curb a lot of that, he said of the proposed countywide ban.
The federal government has passed legislation intended to curtail the sale of synthetic drugs, and a regionwide sweep of head shops, including Tebbs Headshop in Watertown, was conducted last week.
However, having a local ordinance on the books would give police officers more authority to crack down on synthetic drug usage and, hopefully, make the substances much more difficult for county residents to find, Sheriff Carpinelli said.
No retail shops in the county are known to sell synthetic drugs, but residents have been able to buy them from stores outside the county or via the Internet, he said.
Sheriff Carpinelli commended Smittys Smoke Shop in Lowville for voluntarily pulling all such substances from its shelves earlier this year after being approached by law enforcement officials. They were more than cooperative with us, he said.
The legislation, if passed, also should help control usage of synthetic drugs at the moe.down music festival, set for Aug. 10 to 12 at Snow Ridge Ski Resort in Turin, Sheriff Carpinelli said.
The festival, which is returning to the county after two years in Herkimer County, provides a significant boost to area businesses and organizations but has been marked by some drug-related arrests in the past.
The city of Utica in Oneida County and other governments in that region already have adopted synthetic drug laws, and Oneida County is considering a countywide ban, according to the Utica Observer-Dispatch newspaper.
Arlene S. Hall, executive director at Mountain View Prevention Services, said she plans to speak in favor of the proposed countywide ban at next weeks public hearing.
Her agency is sponsoring a Drugs of Abuse seminar at 1 p.m. Monday in the Lowville Academy and Central School auditorium. The seminar, featuring speakers from Upstate Poison Control, is free and open to the public, but anyone interested in attending is asked to pre-register at 376-2321 to ensure that enough handouts are available.
Synthetic marijuana and legal cocaine (otherwise known as bath salts) are indeed being used in our community and are causing serious health ramifications for users, Mrs. Hall wrote in a letter promoting the seminar.
The program tailored for first responders, therapists, counselors and other health care professionals will offer an overview of all drugs of abuse, with time set aside at the end for questions from the audience.